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Hey guys, I'm new to the forum and have a question about what I think is a baby chief. S&W factory told me it was made in 1952 it is nickel and has pearl handles. Are the grips factory and what is it worth? It doesn't have a model number that I can find.
 

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welcome01 to the forums from the Wiregrass, Doc #341 and countin'! :) This is getting easy for an ol' man. I can jest call ever' body Doc. :D

We are going to need pictures of at least both sides of the gun. Good ones...don't use a cell phone or webcam. If you have problems posting, PM me and I'll give you help. Give us close ups of the finish and a partial serial number (XX out the last 2 or 3 digits). Do the pearls have the gun's SN penciled or scratched inside one of the panels? Do they have medallions? Does it have target sights? Model numbers were not used before 1957. So what you have is a pre-Model 36.
 

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can you post a pic? nickel babies are few and far between. i'd check for a refinish. the pearls are not original. if it was made in 52, it is a true baby.
here is a '52 vintage baby:



note the small "round" triggerguard, early "oval" flatlatch, and 5-screw frame.

check for the "baby" features, and post a pic, or at least the serial number, and maybe we can get more info.

if it was originally nickel, it may have a small "N" stamped before the serial number underneath the barrel, and may have an "N" stamped in the grip frame, visible when you remove the grip panels. if it has a "B" in either place, it was originally blue. if it doesn't have anything, a letter might be the only way to tell, unless it is a really bad refinish.(are the hammer and trigger nickel?!).

welcome to the forum. i love the early chiefs. if you get it post pics!!!
thanks,
ed
 

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I don't know how to lad pics on here. The hammer and trigger are nickel it looks just like the one in the pic here. I called S&W gave them the serial # they told me it was made in 1952
 

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Well, the gun has been refinished. That pretty much kills the value. If the pearls are real, they are probably worth as much or more than the gun.
 

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New Doc,

Welcome!
I agree, never heard of a nickle gun leaving Springfield with nickle hammer nor trigger nickled. They would have a "case-hardened" surface like that on ed's baby chief.
The pearls, while probably not original, if authentic, will command a premium over standard magna or service grips.

Mike
 

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After looking closer the hammer and trigger don't appear to be nickel I thought they were but they're just really dirty. I've never owned one of these so I know next to nothing about them. Can anyone give me an idea of value refinished and not refinished. I payed $300 bucks.
 

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Here's Doc's Baby Chief:

babychief.PNG

If the grips are real pearl, they're worth that. We need some better pictures. Take it outside and shoot some with daylight. Shoot both sides and take off the grips and shoot the frame.
 

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Wiregrass guy thanks for all the help. Wow you guys are really a weath of knowledge! Did you get the pics I emailed?
 

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I'll send more pics later I'm working away from home. Thanks for all the help guys. I will send more pics later wiregrass guy if that's ok.
 

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i would still say it has been refinished. the hammer and trigger look nickel to me, too. the grips look to be genuine m.o.p., but are not of s&w manufacture. they should fit any "I" frame, or baby "J".

you are okay at 300. i'd say you could get 100 quickly for the grips, if they are not cracked. the gun would probably still bring 300.

one word of warning! i wouldn't shoot it with the pearls on there. they are fairly fragile.

were you able to check for an "N" or "B"? there might also be an "N' on the rear face of the cylinder. nickel babies are just extremely rare. i have been interested in the small frame s&ws for a LONG time, and i have seen 2 babies that were confirmed as originally nickel.

neat looking little chief! thanks to you (and guy!) for the pics!

ed
 

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just for reference, here is a pic of the "N" on the bottom of the barrel before the serial number (no, this is not a chief!!! i wish!!!):



here is an "N' on the gripframe of a factory nickel smith:



here is an "N" on the rear face of the cylinder:



on a '52 vintage chief, i would maybe look for the "N" on the barrel flat, possibly on the grip frame, and not really very likely on the rear face of the cylinder. BUT! if you have an "N" stamped in any of these places, this is one instance where it would definitely make sense to maybe get a letter. a "B" in any of these places would negate that instantly.

good luck!

ed
 

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Well, the gun has been refinished. That pretty much kills the value. If the pearls are real, they are probably worth as much or more than the gun.
I disagree. Maybe no value to a true collector, who demands a 100% orginal gun, but there are plenty of us small-potatoes collectors (aka "accumulators") who like old S&W's -- even refinished ones. Assuming good mechanical condition, that nickeled baby chief would make a fine carry gun (refinished or not).So it's worth at least as much as an everyday Chief, which around here is at least the mid-threes. I'd sell off the pearls for a c-note (or whatever I could get), put some $20 UM boots on there, and carry it happily ever after.
 

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I don't disagree with you hotrod, but I think that is about half what the gun would be worth in very good condition to someone who specializes in this transitional period handgun. Someone looking for a carry gun wouldn't care it is refinished. In fact, one of the local sports stores routinely sells revolvers that have been nickeled for what I consider to be unreasonable prices. They disappear so I guess there are buyers out there. Also, if those are real pearl grips, they are worth more than $100. The original magna grips for that gun are worth that, or more, if you can find them anywhere.
 

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I agree-- if that baby Chief was original nickel from the factory, with original s/n'd magnas, it'd be worth a whole bunch more. I was just pointing out that the value was not "killed"--in fact, I think the OP scored, considering that he paid three bones for it. If the grips are even worth a mere hundred bucks, he's got $200 into a $400 (or more gun)-- an excellent deal in my book.
If that baby Chief showed up around here, with aftermarket nickel & cheap rubber boots, I'd go $400 for it no problem.
 

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True. But, as you know, there are some collectors who will tell you the gun is worthless. And, it is, as a collectable, but not as a shooter. Perhaps "killed" was a poor choice of words on my part.
 
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